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May 18, 2011
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I thought after my last journal, I should clarify my position on the whole GSP dealy.

I think his statements on the extent of his copyrights are just wrong. Hilariously wrong.

On the other hand, I think his statements about his grandiose position in palaeontological art are true, especially if we consider dinosaurs. His influence is vast, as an excursion into the galleries of nearly all of you will attest. I even think the he is more influential, and better, than Charles Knight (gasp!).

I've never understood this reverence for Knight. It's like every time he's mentioned, we have to reaffirm him being the best palaeoartist of all time hallowedbehisnameamen. Horseshit. Knight sometimes drew living animals and mammals very carefully, but he was frequently lazy and cartoonish with his dinosaurs. As for his painting prowess, yeah sure the guy could paint, but compared to his influences in the late nineteenth century he was--at best--dull. He had a mediocre feeling for light, fussy uninspired brushwork, sometimes awkward posing, and very conventional compositions. Not that he didn't have him moments, but Greg's claim to be his equal or better is certainly plausible.*

So, yes, I think Grey can be silly, but making fun of his hubris flies in the face of how most of us have approached this whole palaeontology thing. Yes, he's an arrogant fuck. But shit, so what?


*To continue on the theme of Knight bashing, I think Doug Henderson is clearly better than him too.
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:iconmurder-junkie:
Murder-Junkie Featured By Owner May 18, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I always thought Knight's art, even as a child, looked unbalanced and awkward. "Why are you showing me this jerk with his teeter-totter t-rex AGAIN, teacher?" I would think. I... was a bit of a jerk, back then.
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:iconmattmart:
MattMart Featured By Owner May 18, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
"Yes, it's stilted, flat and unrealistic, that the whole *fucking point!"
I agree with Dinomaniac on this one. Not that the *style* is unrealistic. That's just the style. It's what's being depicted that's often unbelievable to some extent. I'd call that fantasy art. Like painting an anatomically correct grizzly bear leaping full speed through the air to maul an anatomically correct bison which is rearing up on two legs amid a small herd of fleeing anatomically correct pronghorn. Is it something that happens in nature? Er, maybe... is it something that looks natural and believable as a piece of wildlife art? Nope.
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:iconalgoroth:
Algoroth Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2012  Professional General Artist
Can of worms, opened up, stirred around, and served with maggot sauce.

Here's your scenario, folks, for real: in Knight's day, there were bones and really bad restorationhs. Knight was the first to actually give realistic life to those bones. He worked along with the best paleontologists of his day and utilized the latest facts known in his time. Greg Paul's work has been done nearly three quarters of a century later, so he should have some advantage in accuracy. Henderson is one of my favorites, but many of his restorations seem to me to ignore the bones; too stilted, often too thinly limbed.

Paul's work often suffers from that same lack of putting enough meat on the bones, IMO, and way too often draws stiff creatures reminiscent of taxidermy mounts--stiff taxidermy mounts. Examples? Go to his site and start his slideshow going. You'll see plenty. Don't misunderstand me: Greg Paul is also a favorite of mine, but he is not God and neither is his work perfect.

I don't look for perfection in something that we cannot, as yet, properly judge for even reasonable perfection. It's hard enough to do so for art worked from modern animals whom we can see and study and photograph and video. Claiming perfection for restorations of stone bones is foolish.

Looking back at mistakes made by past masters and claiming the artist is bad lacks class; good class, that is. Was Knight perfect? Nope. Was Burian? Nope. Were they inspirational to a lot of kids who later became paleontologists and paleoartists? Yes...according to them, anyway.
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:iconjconway:
jconway Featured By Owner May 18, 2011
I've never considered Greg a wildlife artist, I guess. Certainly not one that was aiming for naturalism. It's all about the anatomy, which is quite a different take from previous palaeontological artists. It's also weird and (used to be) unique.
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:iconraven-amos:
raven-amos Featured By Owner May 18, 2011  Professional General Artist
Maybe that's the inherent problem with some paleoart - it really _is_ wildlife art, but not a lot of people see it that way. We're so obsessed with the bones (rightly so), that we forget about the creature itself.

Greg's work lacks the realistic discipline and imagination of some of the other artists I have seen (James Gurney, for example, or even Wayne Barlowe and his parents). You can look at one of their pieces and feel the heat of the midday sun, smell the offal and blood in the air, feel the wind and water spray in your face. It's like comparing Brom or Frank Frazetta to Boris Vallejo - all of them work in oils, all of them do fantasy, but Vallejo, despite his talent and expertise, is flat, uninspired, and muddy when compared to Frazetta. Ironically enough, Vallejo is also a dick.

That's nice that he can use old drafting and architectural tricks to do his skeletals, but where's the *pulse*? Where's the life force?
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:iconalgoroth:
Algoroth Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2012  Professional General Artist
Got to agree with you! Gurney, though not always accurate, does superb work; alive and interesting, and just plain cool. Frazetta was a genius, as was Vallejo, but Vallejo took too many shortcuts; tracing photos, for example, to advance beyond a glitzy shine to please me. Obviously, he pleased a lot of people, though.

I've never dealt with Boris, so I cannot say how pirckish he is, but GSP? I wrote him a complimentary e-mail and he wrote one back insulting me. His privilege, but it also cut my respect for him way down. His art reflects his attitude--often stiff and formalized.
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:iconraven-amos:
raven-amos Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2012  Professional General Artist
I think perhaps I misspoke about B. Vallejo being a "dick" - I have had no firsthand conversations with him. I think it's more to do with the fact that I don't like the women in his paintings. I probably shouldn't have called him a dick just based on that - but it still bugs me.
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:iconalgoroth:
Algoroth Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2012  Professional General Artist
I like his women. I like his pencil work especially. In that medium, he not only approaches genius, he shakes hands with it and becomes well acquainted.

His conceptual designs bespeak of a well-honed talent, conversant with life. In my opinion, his highly finished paintings too often lose that special cache of life and soul and spirit. Not because they're highly finished, because artists like Carl Brenders catch life and detail supremely well. I don't know why he loses the soul in his finished work. Maybe too much control over the strokes?

Dunno.

My main problem with Paul's work has been stated: he draws and paints dead creatures most of the time. Most of them look like they've been mounted. And I say this in spite of how much I love and respect his work. GSP truly is a man and resource and artist to be treasured, respected, and admired.

Another artist whom I feel this way about is John Sibbick, though there are a few exceptions in his work. Doug Henderson's dinos and paleo creatures are often drawn stiffly--sorry, folks, knees DO bend quite often--but he also often DOES get the life right on the money and his compositions and atmospheric feel are to die for. WONDERFUL artist, IMO, and a great inspiration.

Life...hmmmmm....Hallett, Gurney, Burian, Knight, Witton, Bakker. Gurche misses the boat in his paintings quite often, though he has done some iconic images, but his 3D work is incredible, full of life and spirit and soul.

For prehistoric mammals...Jay Matternes.

Lessee....who else can I think of at the moment? Steve Czerkas. Possibly Brian Cooley (Spelling?) Phil Tippett certainly did some great work on dinos for the movies. Fully accurate? Nah. Fun to look at? You betcha!

Honorable mentions? Raul Martin and Csotonyi (Spelling?) Why honorable mentions? As wonderful as they can be, their styles are too close to each other and a few of their dinos bore me to tears...and I don't think of dinos as boring. GSP has never done that to me and neither have any of the others mentioned.

Fabio Pastori can be a little bit of a plagiarist, to judge from some pics and he is guilty of anachronisms in some of his pics, but his work is lively, as is Luis Rey's. Too colorful for my tastes, but he is greatly skilled and inventive and damned daring.

As for my fellow Deviants? I like a lot of what I see, your stuff included. Paleo King, Scott Hartman, Qilong and a few others do some fine, well researched stuff. Palaeozoologist also does interesting work.
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:iconmattmart:
MattMart Featured By Owner May 18, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Knight is a great landscape/wildlife artist who did dinosaurs, so right of the bat, he's most respected. As somebody who likes seeing dinosaurs in a naturalistic light and in context, Knight rocks. But GSP is definitely more influential. Probably too much so. When I re-posed some of my scale charts so the theropods were standing still with their mouths closed people went ape-shit over it. GSP is the master of dinosaur anatomy to a fault. His stuff isn't realistic, it's hyper-realistic. It's like Body Worlds. Artificially posed studies in anatomy. Which is fine. It's almost like the crystal palace ichthyosaur with the bones of the flipper externally visible. Yes, we get it, you did your homework, you know all the muscles and length of the illial blade and how far that _Sinornithosaurus_ could extend its knee before it snapped. Now cover all that anatomy up in fat and integument and hide the entire extent and curvature of the neck in feathers and draw it asleep or something! But he doesn't and neither does almost anybody else. It's always super-skinny rippling muscles visible through the skin with no bulk pirouetting towards the neck of its doomed prey.

So yeah, I like Knight better (now) but there's no question that Paul is more influential.

And Henderson is better than all of them.
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:iconalgoroth:
Algoroth Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2012  Professional General Artist
You are right on the money (IMO) about Paul. Knight's influence, however, covers close to a century. Paul has the biggest mouth; canonizing his points of view, while vilifying other artists' work. Please read the text in his Predatory Dinosaurs of the World for examples. While that book is one of THE most influential books on dinos--rightfully so!!!!!--its text often leaves a very bad taste in the mouth, as though he is so unsure of himself, tearing down others is his best bet to rise to the top.
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